Long Overdue Recognition

PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich presents Navajo Code Talker Adolph Nagurski's Congressional Silver Medal posthumously to his son Benjamin (second from left). Also pictured (from left to right) Navajo Code Talker Thomas H. Begay and Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, April 3, 2018.

April 4, 2018

Dear Friend,

Yesterday, I was proud to present a Congressional Silver Medal to the late Navajo Code Talker Adolph Nagurski's family in honor of his incredible heroism and service to our nation. This recognition is long overdue for the sacrifices Adolph Nagurski made to protect his nation, his homeland and secure the freedom we enjoy today.

The Navajo Code Talkers are a central part of New Mexicans' long and storied history of protecting our nation. These brave men developed an unbreakable code with the Diné language that was critical to winning the war in the Pacific during World War II. Their code has been credited with saving the lives of thousands of American GI's. In 2000, medals were authorized by Congress and produced by the U.S. Mint to recognize the Navajo Code Talker's immense contribution to winning the war against Japan.

Unfortunately, due to health issues, Adolph Nagurski couldn't attend the medal ceremony for Code Talkers at Window Rock in 2001. And for over 14 years, his family attempted to obtain his Congressional Medal. When I learned about their troubles, I worked to authorize the approval and release of this prestigious medal so Mr. Nagurski's family could finally receive the proper recognition for his incredible service to our nation.

One of my most important responsibilities as a senator is to help New Mexico's veterans receive the recognition and care they earned through their service. Earlier this week, I was also proud to join Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi "Hershey" Miyamura to tour the future site of the Gallup Veterans Cemetery, which I helped secure funding for through a $6.7 million federal grant. I have led the effort to reduce the VA disability claims backlog, working with Community-Based Outpatient Clinics across New Mexico to ensure their needs continue to be met. I also cosponsored legislation that was signed into law last year to modernize and strengthen veterans' education benefits and enhance the post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

I am committed to ensuring our nation keeps its promises to our men and women in uniform and their families. My office has helped hundreds of veterans across New Mexico access their care and benefits. Whether you or a family member are experiencing trouble filing a claim, receiving benefits, accessing health benefits or military records, replacing medals, or other veterans issues, my office is here to help. Please contact my office by calling (505) 346-6601 or visit the Veterans Resources Center on my website.

Sincerely,

MARTIN HEINRICH
United States Senator